The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) has released a findings report from its survey on the early impact of COVID-19 on the arts and cultural economy in the West. Nearly 800 survey responses were received and indicate that artists, arts nonprofits, and creative businesses (such as design firms, galleries, and photography studios) are facing significant financial challenges from the COVID crisis with limited levels of savings or reserves. Key observations based on the survey findings include:
- Roughly 62% of all respondents saw a severe, total, or very significant reduction in income or revenue since the COVID-19 outbreak began in early 2020.
- Overall, artists, arts nonprofits, and creative businesses in the West face greater financial fragility when compared with American households, nonprofits, and small businesses generally.
- Arts nonprofits in the West, and nationally, appear to be protecting their employees from layoffs, and arts nonprofit layoffs compare favorably with nonprofit layoffs as a whole: more than 70% of arts nonprofits in the West have not had to lay off employees.
- Due to low savings and reserves levels, the financial situation of many artists, arts nonprofits, and creative businesses in the West will likely worsen in the coming months, as their savings and reserves are depleted unless they are able to access some form of financial support.
- Relief funding for artists and relief funding for arts organizations are viewed to be the most supportive interventions, but supportive policies like unemployment benefits and business loans also hold promise in supporting the field.